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If you live in Maine and have a disability, you may qualify for certain Social Security disability benefits and other forms of assistance.
Under the guidance of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Maine Disability Determination Services (DDS) processes all Social Security disability claims and determines if benefits are awarded. Residents can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Maine also offers disability services such as MaineHealth, unemployment benefits, vocational rehabilitation, as well as private short-term disability and long-term disability benefits that may be available through your employer.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS). This advocacy program supports older disabled adults and provides long-term disability care for Maine residents.
Facts About Maine
About 30% of Maine residents have some sort of disability, though only 7% of the population are receiving SSDI benefits. Maine spends nearly $4.5 billion a year on disability services, which is 37% of its total healthcare spending.
These medical conditions often increase the need for services and financial assistance. If you suffer from a disability, your first step is to fill out a disability application with the SSA for disability benefits, then explore the state services that can also provide aid.
How To Qualify for SSDI in Maine
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federally funded program and eligibility requirements are the same from state to state. However, even if you do technically qualify under federal guidelines, your disability claim may still be denied.
Since determination is made at the state level, it’s up to Maine DDS to review your application and roughly 70% of all first-time applications will be denied. This is why it’s essential to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements and provide as much documentation as you can to support your claim.
Maine’s Disability Determination Services will consider the severity of your disability and verify that you have worked long enough to pay into the system. Your disability must be considered “severe” and should be listed in the SSA Blue Book. This list was compiled by the SSA and contains conditions and illnesses that are eligible for benefits. The disability must be severe enough to limit a person’s ability to work for at least 12 months.
The standard amount of time that an individual needs to have worked is 10 years, but this can vary depending on your age and disability. Employees are protected from disability discrimination by law and must have any reasonable accommodation made to help them perform their job duties.
How To Apply for SSDI in Maine
Applications for SSDI in Maine can be submitted in person, online, or over the phone. Applying online at the federal Social Security website is the fastest way for an applicant to submit their claim, but you can also call (800) 772-1213 for help over the phone. Those wishing to apply for disability insurance in person should call first to schedule an appointment. A list of offices and contact numbers can be found below.
Before you apply, you should take the time to organize supporting documents to help with your SSDI claim. These include but are not limited to:
- Basic personal information about you, your spouse, and a minor child. This could include Social Security numbers, birth certificates, and dates of birth.
- Medical records that are associated with your disability. This includes contact information for doctors, clinics, or existing services and should cover any physical, intellectual, or developmental disability.
- Past and current employment information
How To Appeal a Denial in Maine
Almost 70% of applicants will be denied on their first application or first appeal. It’s important to be aware of the entire appeals process so you know what to expect. You must start this process within 60 days of your initial denial and go through each stage before moving on to the next. Luckily, around 56% of applications are approved at the disability hearing level of appeals.
Level 1: Reconsideration – Your first attempt at recourse is to request to have a different SSA representative review your application. This is called reconsideration, and you don’t need to provide any additional documentation at this time.
Level 2: Disability Adjudication – If your reconsideration was denied, you have 60 days to request a formal hearing with a judge. It’s here that a claimant will want to bring additional documentation or witnesses who can support their case. You may want to retain a lawyer at this time. There is one Hearing and Appeal Office located in Portland and hearings typically take around 10 months to be scheduled.
Level 3: Appeal Council – Within another 60-day window you can request an Appeals Council review the case. At this stage, you should consider hiring a disability attorney if you haven’t already.
Level 4: District Court – At this highest level of appeals you will request that a federal district court review the Appeals Court decision. There is only one federal district court in Maine.
More Maine Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) differs from SSDI in that it’s intended for low-income Maine residents. Those who are disabled or over age 65 can qualify for SSI if they meet income requirements. When you apply for SSDI, the SSA will also check to see if you’re eligible for SSI. The current income cap for individuals is $814 a month.
Maine Medicaid (MaineCare) is health insurance available to children and adults earning less than $17,131 a year. MaineCare insurance covers regular doctor and hospital visits, mental illness services, pharmacy, and home health care among others. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for MaineCare.
Those who need temporary financial assistance due to a loss of employment through no fault of their own can apply for Maine unemployment benefits. The program is managed by the Maine Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. If you are an employee who has earned enough income during your base period, you may qualify for benefits of up to $462 a week for 26 weeks.
Maine Social Security Offices
|SSA Field Office Locations in Maine|
|Portland SSA Office||1355 Congress St Floor 2|
Portland, ME 4102
|Bangor SSA Office||202 Harlow St Room 10307|
Bangor, ME 4401
|Augusta SSA Office||330 Civic Center Dr Suite 4|
Augusta, ME 4330
|Auburn SSA Office||600 Turner Street Suite 5|
Auburn, ME 4210
|Presque Isle SSA Office||365 Main St|
Presque Isle, ME 4769
|Rockland SSA Office||169 Camden St|
Rockland, ME 4841
|Saco SSA Office||110 Main St Suite 1450|
Saco, ME 4072
|Waterville SSA Office||14 Colby Street|
Waterville, ME 4901
Maine Hearing and Appeal Offices
Maine is in Region 1 (Boston), which services Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The Portland, ME Hearing Office services the cities of Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Portland, Presque Isle, Rockland, Saco, and Waterville.
|Region 1 – SSA Office of Hearing Operations in Maine|
|SSA Hearing Office – Portland||One Portland Square Suite 600|
Portland, ME 04101-4092